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About the Liszt Competition

 
The Liszt Competition Utrecht actively presents, develops and promotes piano talents from around the world. In doing so, it has become one of the prominent gateways to the international professional classical music scene for young musicians.

The starting point is the triennial International Liszt Competition, held at TivoliVredenburg, Utrecht, The Netherlands, which was founded in 1986 and since has built a reputation as one of the world’s most prestigious piano competitions. Starting with the 11th edition in 2017, the competition has a new structure in place, which focuses less on the competing part and gives more opportunities to the participating pianists to showcase their artistry to an international audience.

The Competition consists of three phases.
The first phase is the International Selection Round eight months prior to the competition, with public sessions around the globe; in 2019 this will include New York, Moscow, Tbilisi, Shanghai, Hong Kong and of course Utrecht. All participants admitted to this phase will perform a 30-minute recital in front of the same jury. The second phase is ‘the festival’ for which 14 pianists will be invited. Each of them will perform three recitals, one recital devoted to original compositions, one to transcriptions and one to chamber music. The third phase is ‘The Finals’ where the three winners of the competition are presented to the world in a solo recital and in a final concert with the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra.

What sets the Liszt Competition apart from other competitions is the extensive Career Development Programme that is offers to its winners. For a period of three years, the competition works closely with all three winners, providing management (with over 300 concerts in 35 countries), professional coaching (e.g. media and stage presence training), publicity (website, press-kit, CDs, etc.) and continuous mentorship. Winners of the competition will get hands-on experience of what it is like to be a professional traveling musician, build an international network, and develop as an artist and a person by learning first-hand about the world, and specifically the world of music.

The role model for the competition is pianist, composer and visionary Franz Liszt (1811-1886). As the first internationally recognized (and idolized) musician, Franz Liszt was responsible for establishing the way a piano recital is conducted nowadays. Throughout his life, he developed a large number of innovations, ranging from new performance techniques to new composition structures; his total oeuvre consists of over 1,000 works, mainly for the piano. He also was a strong advocate of the work of other composers, performing and promoting unknown compositions by the likes of Beethoven, Bellini and Schubert.

The Liszt Competition is known for its bold repertoire choices, and each edition focuses on different unknown pieces. In its 12th edition (2020), the competition will have an even stronger artistic profile, with a central theme: ‘Beethoven’. The compulsory repertoire will include Liszt’s transcriptions of song cycles and the symphonies of Beethoven, as well as the Fantasy for piano and orchestra based on themes of Beethoven’s Ruins of Athens. Furthermore, original compositions of Beethoven are allowed as part of the free choice repertoire.

The Liszt Competition has a ‘difficult-but-human’ reputation. The wishes and needs of the participants are central to the organisers, who make every effort to ensure that participating in the Competition does not put excessive stress on the young pianists.

Previous winners include Enrico Pace (1989), Igor Roma (1996), Yundi Li (1999), Yingdi Sun (2005), Vitaly Pisarenko (2008), Nino Gvetadze (2008), Mariam Batsashvili (2014) and Alexander Ullman (2017).

The Liszt Competition regularly organises International Piano Masterclasses with prominent pianists and piano teachers. Such as Earl Wild, Andrea Bonatta, Louis Lortie, Paul Badura-Skoda, Jacques Rouvier and Leslie Howard. These masterclasses have been given in Utrecht as well as in New York, Shanghai, Moscow, Beijing, Guangzhou, Taipei, Tokyo and Seoul by such luminaries as Earl Wild, Andrea Bonatta, Louis Lortie, Paul Badura-Skoda, Jacques Rouvier and Leslie Howard.
In 2017, the Liszt Competition also launched a new collection of online masterclasses on YouTube, currently including lectures by Leslie Howard, Jerome Rose, Frederic Chiu and Reinbert de Leeuw. And many more videos are in the pipeline.

The 12th edition of the Liszt Competition will take place from 16 to 28 March 2020, with selection rounds in September 2019. The deadline for application is 1 May 2019.


Besides the International Piano Competition held every three years, the Liszt Competition also hosts a number of other concerts and events.

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